Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

NOTE: Archive articles may be downloaded and reproduced for personal or classroom use only.

Book Review Essay, Resources

A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-first Century

BY CHARLES HOLCOMBE NEW YORK: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-521-51595-5, HARDBACK; ISBN 978-0-52173164-5 PAPER Charles Holcombe has given instructors of East Asian history courses and world history teachers a welcome gift: his book, A History of East Asia. This volume is packed with both information and insights. The author provides interesting facts that will spice up lectures and illuminating statistics that will give students a vivid sense of East Asia’s size a...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

BY EZRA VOGEL CAMBRIDGE, BELKNAP PRESS, 2011 849 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0674055445, HARDCOVER This most important political biography of Deng Xiaoping argues that only Deng’s unique leadership strengths made China’s extraordinary economic rise possible. Senior scholar Ezra Vogel focuses on the period from 1969 to 1992. During Mao’s vigilante violence against and purges of people perceived as disloyal to Mao and his dogmas, a period known as the Cultural Revolution, Deng was sent to a rural fa...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction from Korea

BRUCE FULTON, EDITOR ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, KORYO PRESS, 2011 250 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1597432030, PAPERBACK As a teacher of world literature to high school seniors, I have experimented with many works in translation, attempting to introduce unfamiliar cultures through story. When the references are too vague or the background too intimidating, students close the book before they give the literature (and sometimes the culture) a chance. That is why Waxen Wings is a welcome work. While Korean reader...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway is a literary masterpiece. This is a long overdue biography of an individual who helped shape the events of the Pacific War following Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor. It is not a light read, as each of the 456 pages is packed with first-rate research and brilliant analysis. Carlson’s online audio and video descriptions of his book are helpful for teachers and the general reader. But for thi...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The I Ching: A Biography

The I Ching A Biography BY RICHARD J. SMITH PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2012 278 PAGES, ISBN 978-0691145099, HARDCOVER Author’s note: Smith uses the Wade-Giles spelling of “I Ching” in the title of his book, but uses the Pinyin “Yijing” in the text of the book. He includes a note about why he does this, and I will follow his choice in this review. Richard J. Smith’s The I Ching: A Biography is a concise and well-written guide to the historical development and cultu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West

Lost Colony The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West BY TONIO ANDRADE PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 456 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0691144559, HARDBACK In Lost Colony, Tonio Andrade offers a highly readable account of the Sino-Dutch War of 1661–62 that resulted in the loss of the Dutch colony on Taiwan, which will be of great use for educators, their students, and general readers. Andrade treats the war as a case study to test competing explanations ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu

Between the Floating Mist Poems of Ryōkan TRANSLATED BY DENNIS MALONEY AND HIDEO SHIRO BUFFALO, NY: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2009 96 PAGES, ISBN 978-1935210054, PAPERBACK Lotus Moon The Poetry of Rengetsu TRANSLATED BY JOHN STEVENS BUFFALO, NY: WHITEPINEPRESS, 2005 130 PAGES, ISBN 978-1893996366, PAPERBACK In addition to its importance as a major world religion, Buddhism has produced one of the longest-running, most multifaceted, and brilliantly textured literary culture...

Book Review Essay, Resources

China and the World Economy

The Great Rebalancing Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy By MICHAEL PETTIS Princeton University Press, 2013 The Globalization Paradox Democracy and the Future of the World Economy By DANI RODRIK  W. W. Norton & Company, 2012 The Leaderless Economy Why the World Economy System Fell Apart and How to Fix It By PETER TEMIN AND DAVID VINES Princeton University Press, 2013   The global impact of China’s rise, as presented by these in...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Bing: From Farmer’s Son to Magistrate in Han China

In a recently published study, Paul R. Goldin takes stock of the advances and limitations of the study of early China in Canada and the United States. Acknowledging the seminal contributions of earlier scholars in the field, he also points out liabilities that arise from the way in which North American scholars have shaped our understanding of early Chinese culture. Especially misleading, according to Goldin, is the widespread notion that “there was no room in early China for named individual ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders

Asanga Tilakaratne’s Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders offers an overview of “southern Buddhism” that is both traditional and innovative, yet also problematic. Educators will find a valuable resource in its chapters that analyze central doctrines and practices. These offer apt and refreshing perspectives on Buddhism as a lived tradition for the monks and householders adhering to the dominant lineage of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia today. This book offers a correcti...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan

Pleasant Things A slim book rests lightly in one’s hand The apricot curving lips of the dust jacket woman Tile-red rectangle with white lettering Red-tile endpapers’ pattern of faint white dots Soft leaves of text A few shiny pages with golden clouds, dark green tatami, and pines Things that are Fitting A 2011 edition of The Pillow Book pleasant to sight and touch A book whose origin is a “bundle of paper” given by an Empress to a Court Lady A celebratio...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Japanese Education in an Era of Globalization: Culture, Politics, and Equity

This eleven-chapter book grew from a series of meetings after the launch of the Japan Special Interest Group in the Comparative and International Education Society in 2007. It documents educational changes in Japan since the 1990 burst of their “Bubble Economy” and the onset of nearly two decades of recession. The editors highlight the following five themes: (1) Global Interaction, especially the PISA (Programme for International Student Achievement) test results; (2) Changing School Context...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Great Civilized Conversation: Education for a World Community

For over half a century, Wm. Theodore de Bary has worked as an educator engaged in the debate about the content and style of university education in the decades after the war, and as a researcher focusing on East Asian intellectual and religious traditions. At Columbia University, where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he developed the University’s Oriental Humanities and Oriental Civilization courses, which came to parallel Columbia’s already well-established Contempor...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Southeast Asia: Past & Present (Seventh Edition)

The seventh edition of D.R. SarDesai’s Southeast Asia: Past and Present is an ambitious and updated study that gives the reader a sweeping and informative view of the history of the region. In about 370 pages, SarDesai seeks to introduce readers to the major themes and problems in Southeast Asian history from the prehistoric period to the present. For students of Southeast Asian history, this text offers a solid introduction to the region while providing an ample base from which to leap into m...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

  Japan 1941 discusses why Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor even though many senior officials knew that their chances of winning the war were at best 50-50. While the author also discusses historical events such as Matthew C. Perry’s 1853 visit to Japan, the rationale behind Japan’s joining the Tripartite Pact with Italy and Germany in 1940, the personal experiences of “Soldier U,” and the popular reaction to the seemingly endless war with China that—depending o...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958–1962

  Between 1958 and 1962, an estimated thirty-six million Chinese died of starvation in what became history’s worst famine. Normally, such epic tragedies would yield a vast body of historical works, memorials, interviews, memoirs, conferences, and documentaries. Yet this epochal event is largely ignored outside of China and, more appallingly, actively suppressed within China to this day. Recently, Chinese, foreign scholars, and journalists have worked to remedy this ignorance to some ef...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

One of the great questions preoccupying Asia watchers today is whether continental powers such as China, India, or Iran can go to sea by amassing enough overseas commerce, merchant and naval fleets, and forward outposts to support voyages spanning the seven seas. And if they can, how will they do business in great waters, and how should established maritime powers interact with the newcomers to safeguard longstanding interests? Commerce, bases, and ships: these are the lineaments of sea power...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Peeling The Onion Stories: “China in Family Photographs: A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life”

Asked to write a review of China in Family Photographs, I quickly got caught up in the task. Using stories from a series begun in 1996, Ed Krebs and Professor Hanchao Lu translate the tales based on the pictures that accompany the text. They also wrote an introduction to each piece, setting it in context. My reaction was positive, even enthusiastic. I’d call the approach of our two authors ”onion stories.” They are layered. One way is to take the subject of the story and peel back that ...

Book Review Essay, Key Issues in Asian Studies, Resources

Key Issues in Asian Studies: “Indonesia: History, Heritage, Culture”

With her contribution to the Key Issues in Asian Studies series—INDONESIA: History, Heritage, Culture— Kathleen M. Adams has maintained and even enhanced its well-established reputation for quality. Writing a brief yet comprehensive book is challenging because specialists must restrain themselves from delving too far into their area of expertise. Instead of presenting an in-depth look at the specific, they must focus on engaging intelligent but uninformed readers so they can grasp the basics...

Book Review Essay, Columns, Resources

Inside Pol Pot’s Secret Prison

  Produced in 2002 by The History Channel, Inside Pol Pot’s Secret Prison offers a narrative overview of Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum (also commonly known by its coded name, “S-21”). S-21 served as the main interrogation center and prison during the Khmer Rouge regime, when Cambodia was officially known as Democratic Kampuchea. The fifty-minute documentary briefly discusses the rise and fall of Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979) and life conditions during this regime. As apparent...